Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Intended for use in future years

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 13 Hours. (13 x 1 hour twice a week)
Seminars / Tutorials 10 Hours. (10 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 3,000 word essay  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  50%

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the module, students will be able to:
1. Display a critical awareness of the key debates in IR theory.
2. Show a general understanding of the historiography of IR.
3. Critically reflect upon key theories and concepts in the context of contemporary international relations.
4. Demonstrate a general knowledge of leading authors and their main works.
5. Demonstrate an awareness of IR theory and debates in the philosophy of social science.
6. Identify a wide range of theoretical positions and the differences that distinguish them.
7. Articulate in seminars the key elements of different theories when considered in the context of contemporary world events.

Brief description

The principal purpose of this module is to explore the grand theoretical tradition of 'International Relations' and its critics. There is little agreement on what theory is to address or how it is to be addressed. Still, the many different theoretical traditions which are a part of the academic study of international relations impart a rich understanding of an equally diverse array of global issues. Indeed, questions of gender inequality and human emancipation are as much a part of international relations theory as questions of sovereignty and war.


The aim of this module is twofold. First, it introduces students to these theoretical traditions. Particular attention will be paid to the assumptions, claims, and modes of reasoning that distinguish these traditions of thought. Second, the insights afforded by these traditions will be considered in several contemporary contexts. Overall, then, the module provides students an opportunity to engage in these debates and to explore the controversies to which they give rise

Transferable skills

This module provides students with an opportunity to develop, practice and test a wide range of transferable skills which will help them to conceptualize and evaluate examples and ideas. Directed reading, in advance of weekly seminars, will enable students to practice and enhance their reading, comprehension and thinking skills. Theories like neorealism and liberal democratic peace theory require an engagement with positivism, including using models and the analysis of historical data. Lectures aid the development of comprehension skills, including note-taking: seminars help to enhance communicative skills as well as the ability to listen and participate actively in focused discussion. The module also involves one case study which is designed to show the relevance of theory to a particular context. Such an approach to learning requires that students immerse themselves in a particular role. The list of transferable skills culminates with the enhancement of independent research (essay) and the capacity to analyze and formulate arguments under time constraints (exam).

10 ECTS credits


1.What is IR theory? IR and other disciplines
2. Political Realism
3. Idealism
4. The English School
5. Structural Realism
6. Post second world war liberalism in IR
7. Constructivism
8. Normative Approaches to global issues
9. Marxist Approaches
10. Gender Approaches
11. Poststructural Approaches
12. Postcolonial Approaches
13. Classical and contemporary IR theory

Reading List

Essential Reading
(2007.) International relations theories :discipline and diversity /edited by Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith. Oxford University Press Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6